click on item below to be transported there
Pollyscale Methods
Scalecoat enters the fray
Trapping Water is critical
Modelflex is mentioned
Discussion return to Scalecoat
Paint Fumes?
Acrylics are good for brush work
Back to Scalecoat Again
Colors change with final finish
Acrylics Shelf Life
Methods for saving paint
Branchline Freight Car Paints


From the SMRF FAQ's
I wanted to address this question to the group, seeing as how I believe
most of us here are modelers.  Please respond to this off-list directly
to me, my e-mail address is at the end.  I have 2 Badger Model 200
airbrush that have gone bad.  On both of them the check valve to allow
air to go into barrel has gone bad.  One I received from a friend who had
a pair of them and had it for 15 years, but was unused.  On the second
locomotive it blocked up and I could not get it to work again.  I just
thought it had gone bad so I bought another one.  This one also went bad
on the second use.  The airbrushes were thoroughly cleaned prior to
putting them away.  Has anyone else had the same problem with this model?
 If so, what did you do?  I am thinking of sending back the check valves
to Badger to have them both replaced.  Thanks for any help, and again
please respond off list to my address.

Jeremy Helms

John Lee (no relation to Randy) is Badger's model railroad consultant
and you can e-mail him at BN

John Welther

Jeremy--I have a Model 200 that I've been using for 16 years with
the same check valve. You might want to take it apart since paint
may have gotten in there. Also, are your sure it's the valve? What
are your symptoms?

Larry Puckett

I must let everyone know that the problem with the Badger Model 200
airbrush I have is fixed, as a matter of fact, I now have two good
airbrushes.  John at Badger got back to me promptly with some suggestions
to the problem, of which I followed through with the one I had not
already done.  Both check valves work fine and I wanted to put in a good
word for the company, they were very helpful.

Thanks to their help I now have a dark black SD45 drying awaiting decals
to make the transformation final on Southern Railway 3168, modeled for

Jeremy Helms

Jeremy--just in case others run into the same problem, what was the

Larry J. Puckett

So sorry about this one.  I had , I believe, slightly clogged the check
valve with some paint and had not cleaned it.  Another thing to look at
would be to make sure your paint is properly thinned and air pressure
regulated properly.
Jeremy Helms

  I am very interested in what type paint is being used with the various
types of airbrushes.  Also would be interested in other factors such as
amount of thinner, air pressure, type of compressor etc.
  Another area is what is used for clean-up after painting.  We have been
over the strippers and didn't seem to get a concensus on them.  Will be
very interesting to see the results of this survey.  Just post to the list
and we can all get an education?????

S.A. McCall(hosam)

For many years I used Scalecoat II and loved it--except for the fumes.
For that I used Scalecoat II thinner for thinning and cleanups. Then
when Accuflex came out then gave the magazine a full dealer rack of
paint so naturally I tried it out and eventually got used to it. I
dilute it with water and cleanup with soapy water and sometimes
ammonia. ModelFlex is now my favorite although the new Polyscale is a
close second. For them I still dilute with water and cleanup the same
as with Accuflex.

One thing I have found that is usually necessary with the flex paints
is dilution. I usually thin them with distilled water until they are
jsut a little thicker than water alone. I then spray at about 25 PSI.
I have found it necessary to build up the coats slowly to prevent
drips and runs. However, if there is a small run, leave it alone and
often it will flatten out as it dries. Normally though I hit the
finished paint with a hair drier on high to instantly dry it. This is
great for preventing dust from settling on a still wet paint job.

Although I use soapy water and sometime ammonia for a cleanup, a
little scraping with a pipe cleaner may be necessary in and around the
tip--acrylics stick like glue. The positive side of the flex paints is
decal application. I have never had a decal "silver" on me. They
usually go on even better than on the glossy Scalecoat finish. The
only problems I have even had was with the gloss and supergloss
blacks. They do OK in small areas but when trying to do a large steam
loco they always have dried grainy so I still use Scalecoat on the

Larry J. Puckett

I have used a variety of cleaners,  with the new paint I use a mixture of
amonia and hot water, with the old paints I use mineral spirits, laquer
thinner or hexane.  Does a complete cleanup.  But don't get it on your 
rubber washers at full strength.  

Jerry Ashley

Sam, I have an old and battered(because I've dropped it) Paasche H 
that I finally bought a new tip for.  I use Scalecoat, Modelflex(primary),
Accuflex(when I have to), and Floquil(very little).  For the lacquer
base paints, I use Dio-sol(only because I have it on hand for thinning)
and for the acrylics I use hot soapy water with some liquid detergent
added.  I thin Accuflex with distilled water; haven't had to thin any
model-flex yet. Scalecoat I thin with denatured alcohol.  
I had been spraying at way too high a pressure,  now use 15-20 psi
on the acylics, 20-25 on the lacquers.  I have used Modelflex's Extender
(usually one or two drops per bottle) to delay the drying time a few more
milliseconds.  Temperature, and, yes, humidity in this part of the 
country has an affect.  I use a good moisture trap on the air line.

Jack Parker

Larry, I found your comments on the black acrylics to be interesting.
I had a real problem with gloss black on a SD-60 model, almost gave me
heart failure when I saw what was happening.  So then I tried it on a
scratch shell, same results.  Finally ended up using engine black 
although I wanted this to be a new, shiny engine and gloss coat just
doesn't give me what I wanted.   The Gloss Black took orange peel to
a new level!!  A quick bath in hot soapy water removed all of the 
paint, but it had me worried !

Jack Parker

I've had similar problems wiht Gunze satin black and Tamiya gloss black.  
Both went on real nice but for the life of me I could not get parts sprayed
at a later date to match the shine or texture.  Gunze paint is really nice
to work with but it tends toward the soft side.

Peter Berghs

I've got a situation where I used Gunze paint on a pair of P2K FA-2s
about three years ago.  Nice stuff, sprays very nicely, but the strange
things are:
1) When decaling, Solvaset or Microsol softened the paint and
2) Three years on, the paint is pulling apart over the top of the nose
on both units.  It's not peeling, but rather is opening like a fissure.
Weird as hell.  Units may now get a green anti-glare panel painted on...
Craig Zeni 

By the way, I use a Badger single action, internal mix airbrush with a
Badger Whirlwind compressor.

Larry Puckett

Y'all are makin' this to hard.

  I , also, use a Pasche H.  As soon as I finish with a color, I spray
the appropriate thinner through the thing.
  When I am finished with all the painting, I take the tip assembly
out, unscrew the needle, and deposit both in a baby food jar half
full of Chameleon paint stripper.  There they stay 'till next time.
Same thing with the little paint cup.  Pour out the paint and dunk it
  By the way, when you take them out of the Chameleon, blow through
them once before assembling.  And, when y'all screw the needle into
the cone/tip, don't tighten it!  If you you screw it in too far,
you'll crack the tip and there's no tellin' what kind of spray you'll

Wayne R. Long



This is all new to me, so here is my cheat sheet for using Polly 
Scale paint:

1. Air compressor maintains 18 psi, with a 30 psi burst pressure "off 
the line."

2. Aztec 3000 airbrush set in double action mode, with flow valve set 
to off. (Still learning the double action finger wiggle.)

3. Polly Scale paint thinned by about 15% with distilled water.

4. Paint back and forth, back and forth, with tub of car window 
washer fluid, with a bit of ammonia added, close at hand for cleanup.

5. Stop painting and immediately run above cleaner through airbrush, 
by having a second siphon bottle handy, filled with cleaner.

As always, comment or correction is most welcome.

Don Strack

Man you have not only taken the lid off the paint, you've kicked the can
too!!  Bet you get a dozen posts in no time at all about "what I do" and all
of them will work.  From my own experience of teaching myself how to use an
air brush and then how to use the acrylic paints in an air brush I offer the
following advice.  

Try every reasonable sounding thing, remember what worked for you and forget
the rest.  When I was learning, I tried all kinds of stuff that people
recommended and about 10% of it worked for me.  Was it me or was it them, I
never did figure that out.  My conclusion is that there are so many
variables in this, that no two people are gonna hit on the exact same thing
that works the same for you.  

In my case, I use a Pasche single action, external mix brush with a number 5
tip.  Air compressor with a 2 gallon tank set at about 65 pounds of air
pressure, going to a remote regulator and moisture trap set at about 30 to
35 pounds of pressure "at the gun."  Thinning the paint 15% with auto
windshield washer fluid gives me the finish I want, USUALLY.  Sometimes it
differs as it seems to me, with PolyScale, different colors are different
viscosity requiring a little different variable.

This works for me, here in central VA in my basement and my equipment and
conditions.  Yours will vary using all of your variables.  This probably
doesn't answer your questions at all, but it will start a really neat thread
I'm sure.  Paint availability here in the east is great, so I have no answer
for your supply question.  I hope others will.

mike garber

I'll bet you get less paint buildup with the #5 tip, which is the large
one, right?  I'm using a "medium" tip, which I increased from the fine
that came with the set.  Not sure of the number, probably like a #3.
Still get paint stalagtites at the tip after awhile, but I'm used to
picking the little snots off just before they leap onto the model.

Mike Rose



You don't have this problem with Scalecoat II old buddy!!

Bob Harpe

If it gets OLD, you do!  (At least *I* do!)  Then again, my airbrushes have
been "ruined" by too many acrylic experiments!

Den Lippert

I bought out a hobby shop back in the late 80's and I got a boat load of 
Scalecoat II in the deal. I used one of the bottles earlier this year and had 
no problem with it. I open the box ever so often and go through all the 
colors to see if any of them have set up and so far I haven't had to throw 
any of the bottles away.
No problems here.

Bob Harpe

I'll bet you don't!  I don't recall getting it with old Floquil either, but I
guess that's besides the point.

Believe it or not, I don't think I've ever used Scalecoat II.  What is the
difference between Scalecoat and Scalecoat II?  Are both gloss?  If you use
paint for weathering, obviously you would want to use a flat paint, so what
do you use?  Your models all looked great, so we could all benefit from this

Mike Rose

Scalecoat II is safe for plastics as-is.

Bob Zoeller

Scalecoat II is plastic compatible, it's formula is more like Testors
classic enamels... or at least it smells like it.  I will not use Scalecoat
regular on anything plastic... I've had too many problems with
compatibility and adhesion (I will not use a barrier). Scalecoat II is
still my favorite paint to work with.  I rarely use Floquil anymore. I use
Pollyscale for weathering because it can be diluted with water and/or
alcohol and can be easily applied and massaged around... and because it
doesn't have suspended snot (aka "flex agent") like Badger Modelflex.  If
you look closely at my GP30 you can see the wavy, congealed blobs of
Modelflex on the end railings where the yellow paint balled up.  I have no
plans to use Modelflex for any reason in the future, unless I'm forced to
due to the lack of available specific colors (as with the EL colors).

Pollyscale is by far the most predictable acrylic, I would use it on a
front line model if I had to and probably do ok with it... but as long as I
can get Scalecoat II in the colors I need, guess what.

Andy Harman

I'm not Bob... but I'll chime in from the lacquer front.

Scalecoat II is somewhat less glossy than the "showroom shine" of original
Scalecoat, but generally still glossy enough to decal on.  It's biggest
advantage is true plastic-compatibility.  Scalecoat (1) is the only paint
I've personally ever ruined a model with.  It's thinner is strong enough to
etch/craze styrene with little forewarning.  It can also take DAYS to lose
it's tackiness.  I use it for brass models... and I can use it VERY
CAREFULLY and CAUTIOUSLY on plastic, if the particular color I need is not
available in SC2.  Regardless of which paint I'm using (SC1 or SC2), I use
the Scalecoat II thinner... just to be on the safe side (Weaver officially
considers the two formulas to be mixable, by the way).

For weathering, I switch to Floquil for the dead-flat nature.  I have
several "pre-mixed colors" handy at all times: a couple browns, a dead-flat
black, and a dusty filth.  All are custom mixes... that are tweaked from
time to time.  Most of my weathering colors are actually about 2/3 DULLCOTE
and 1/3 paint before thinning.  I keep the "unthinned" mix in a separate
bottle, and just use what I need in a separate thinned bottle. (80% thinner
or so).  The Dullcote in the mixes gives the weathering more "body" and
whatnot... so it's less likely to wear off.  I haven't had any paint-wear
problems on anything that hasn't been brutally abused.

I use Scalecoat II thinner in Scalecoat paints, Floquil's Airbrush Thinner
in Floquil paints (dries slower than Dio-Sol), and garden-variety hardware
store lacquer thinner for cleanup... and for the highly-thinned weathering
sprays.  A gallon can normally lasts me a couple of years.  I'm not a MAJOR
polluter!  8-)

Den Lippert

Scalecoat I is for brass and other metals. Scalecoat II is plastic compatable 
and works best on plastic. Both Scalecoat I and II provide a glossy surface 
for decaling, but I continue to gloss everything I paint with Floquil Glaze. 
It's an old habit and one that's hard to break.
I've never had any difficulty in spraying Scalecoat or Floquil, but I just 
cannot make these new acrylic paints work for me no matter how hard I try or 
no matter what I do to spray them.
I use Floquil thinned with laquer thinner for most of my weathering. I have 
used Jim's Q-Tip method with excellent results, but I find that a combination 
of the two types of weathering gives me the best results.
I don't want to try and convince anyone to switch from one paint to another, 
but to tell everyone to develope techniques that will give them the results 
that they desire.

Bob Harpe

There was some discussion on this list last year about using Scalecoat 
thinner vs automobile thinner when thinning Scalecoat paints. Someone 
mentioned that laquer thinner is more "harsh" than Scalecoat thinner and I 
thought he was off his rocker for saying so. Well, I now believe there is a 
difference and a big difference between these thinners.
I use a # 10 brush for applying glue to my models and at the end of every 
evening I clean the brushes I use for glueing. Scalecoat thinner will not 
remove the glue from the brush nearly as fast as laquer thinner so I believe 
it is somewhat stronger than Scalecoat thinner and may be too "harsh" for 
Scalecoat paints.
I'm not a scientist and I'm not sure what's in these thinners, but I do 
believe there is a difference between the two.
My two cent's worth,

Bob Harpe

Mike, yes, the #5 tip is the larger one and greatly reduces the cloging and
sputtering, not that it still won't happen, it just takes a lot longer.  I
still keep a Q-tip handy siting in a small jar of the windshield washer
fluid just in case.  Personally, I've gotten where I like the ModelFlex a
lot better as for me it doesn't do this as much.

mike garber



Just a quick note regarding paint. I've used every paint known to man...from
Scalecoat 1 and 2 to Polyscale. I paint brass, resin and plastic. One little
problem that I run into down here in the swamp is water. Yep, no matter how
many traps I have in the line I eventually will spray some water. Now with
all but water based paints this can be a bit annoying. With water based
paint...particularly if it's a steam engine, I just what...and move
on. An interesting  aspect about a steam engine is to be meticulous about
painting it, then slop on all kinds of weathering stuff...from very black
oil around the cylinders and drivers/rods to light chalk around the rear
drivers and trailing truck from sand, then whitish water stains...if the
engine operated in bad water districts like mine do. Often a steam engine
will exhibit a flat appearance on top the boiler and cab from smoke and
cinders while keeping a somewhat shiny appearance on the sides of the
boiler. Many appliances such as the generator and blow down apparatus will
show water stains as well. Of course the smoke box will show a combination
of operational effects...better term than weathering....water from the stack
coming down the smoke box loaded with black soot. I wonder sometimes about
being so careful when applying the first coat...

I now use just Polyscale paint. I actually took a piece of brass sheet and
slopped on some Polyscale. Laid it aside for a month and found I couldn't
scrape it off. No primer or anything. So, I'm now using Polyscale on brass.
Much finer pigment than Scalecoat I'm told by a paint manufacturer.
Scalecoat I always seemed a bit thick to me. OTOH, I have friends who will
use nothing but Scalecoat I on brass. Anything else is unacceptable to them.
OTOH again, they don't weather anything. If you see an unweathered steam
engine you are looking at one in a museum...inside. IMO.

Incidentally, I was in a hurry and painted some structure roofs with
Polyscale with a hand brush. After brushmarks. To each his own,
of course. It's what makes this hobby interesting I guess.

Mike Brock



Seems that periodically we go through a discussion of the merits of various
paints.   Air brush and paint selection apparently is a very personnel
matter as many very good painters have many very different likes and
dislikes yet get great results.

My good friends Bob Harpe and Dennis Lippert both prefer to use Scale Coat
paints.  I don't care for Scale Coat paints as for me, they take way too
long to dry and cause much more work cleaning and maintaining my airbrush
-- the same trouble that Den says he has when using acrylics!

Andy says he will never use Model Flex paint due to the results that he has
gotten with this paint.  On the other hand, though I like Polly Scale
acrylic paint very much and use it a lot, . . . but I get my very best
results using Model Flex paint.  [Note:  The manufacturer of Model Flex
paints will be doing a clinic on using Model Flex paints at the Cleveland
PM-meet on October 5th and 6th.]

Point is, what may work very well for one person is not the paint,
airbrush, of method of choice of another person and visa-versa.  So
fellows, do not take it personally when others disagree with you.  I think
you are all full of poo-poo and need to switch to my methods and choices of
airbrush and paints!        ;~))

Jim Six



I have been reading the various post about brands of paint,and who 
likes what and why.

First of all forget all the water base paints,unless you are getting 
fair results and it doesn't ruin your equipment.

I Have been using Scale Coat 1 and Scale Coat 2 for almost 35 years
doing custom paint work on hundreds of models. I use Floquil on both 
for all my weathering of my models.

Scale Coat 1 for brass models--baked at 175-225 deg. Thinned with SC1
thiner.I have also used it on plastics with no ill effects.

Scale Coat 2 for plastics and resin models.Thinned with SC2 thiner.

I have also used Accu Paint on brass and plastics,but brass has to be 
primered.the results have been the same as Scale Coats. They sell 
direct now you might check them out. They have  about 80 differnt 

For clean up I use a garden variety laquor thinner.

My two cents

William Basden---Delta Models

  I'm with Bill, and have about 20 years of Scalecoat experience
  Following mfg's instructions, and thin Scalecoat 1 with Scalecoat 1
thinner.  I leave the factory finish alone on brass and spray SC1 with my
trusty, ancient Paashe H3.  Clean the airbrush with POL (plain old lacquer
thinner.)  Then use Dullcoat flat thinned with POL.
  On plastic, Scalecoat 2 thinned with Scalecoat 2 thinner, weathered with
Floquil and or oils diluted in mineral spirits, flat coat with Dullcoat and
  I've used both Floquil primer and Scalecoat 2 white or MOW gray as a
primer for shooting EL maroon and other SC colors on plastic.  The thinness
of SC is hard to beat.  Just make sure all those sanding marks are gone, but
that's where Floquil primer comes in.
  I've used water-based paints on scenery with good results, but they were
greatly thinned.  Without lots of thinning, my tip clogs.
  I still use Floquil and shoot it with Testor's gloss coat where decals
are required, but that's mostly on buildings, odd cars, tanks, ships and

Bernie Halloran



It's still "close to the same thing"...

Floquil is not used as much anymore primarily because of its flat 
finish, and the large number of folks who are afraid of spraying it 
on plastic.  They've also played with the formula... made some colors 
that are glossy... and done other things that make the line somewhat 
inconsistant.  Because of the flat finish, a gloss overcoat is needed 
prior to decaling... with Scalecoat, I eliminate that step.

I also used to use Floquil for hand-painting details such as 
handrails on locos, etc... but have found Pollyscale to be far 
superior in terms of coverage and such... it's also less likely to 
mix with the underlying paint, and fume-free.

Another of the primary things I used to use Floquil on was 
scenery/track/structures/etc... because of the flat finish.   This 
sort of work is FAR easier/better with acrylics - because you don't 
need to ventilate the room.  IN general, these items don't get 
handled as much as locos/cars, and color matches are not as critical 
(IMHO).  In fact, I recently bought some cheap artists acrylics 
(bottles) to experiment with, because the cost is 1/3 that of the 
model acrylics.

Den Lippert

A bit of warning. As, I think, Andy Sperandeo pointed out sometime in the
past, Polyscale isn't totally fume free. It's much less a hazard than
Floquil...its thinner is quite bad I'm told...but it still has some stuff in
it that you don't need in your lungs...if you want them to work properly.

  Ahhh yes. Floquil made a really nice assortment of stains. Trouble is you
need a gas mask to work with them.

>This sort of work is FAR easier/better with acrylics - because you don't
>need to ventilate the room.  I


Mike Brock

Well... I wasn't promoting an airbrush full of Pollyscale as the 
perfect substitute for a ventilator.....  8-)

Seriously, I use the Pollyscale stuff "freely" with a brush... but 
when airbrushing, I still use the ordinary protective gear (mainly a 
booth, mask, and (if I'm hand-holding stuff) gloves.  There is still 
a lot of "particulate matter" to contend with... and the alcohol-like 
solvents are still not 100% friendly... even if the isopropyl alcohol 
IS sold for use on your skin!

The booth is disregarded, of course, if painting ON the layout.  
(most layout painting is brush work... with the exception of track 
and a few other large items).  In these cases, I work in 
a "concentrated" fashion for a short time... then evacuate the room 
for a while.  I run the spray booth for flow-thru ventilation in this 
case as well.


Well... I wasn't promoting an airbrush full of Pollyscale as the 
perfect substitute for a ventilator.....  8-)

Seriously, I use the Pollyscale stuff "freely" with a brush... but 
when airbrushing, I still use the ordinary protective gear (mainly a 
booth, mask, and (if I'm hand-holding stuff) gloves.  There is still 
a lot of "particulate matter" to contend with... and the alcohol-like 
solvents are still not 100% friendly... even if the isopropyl alcohol 
IS sold for use on your skin!

The booth is disregarded, of course, if painting ON the layout.  
(most layout painting is brush work... with the exception of track 
and a few other large items).  In these cases, I work in 
a "concentrated" fashion for a short time... then evacuate the room 
for a while.  I run the spray booth for flow-thru ventilation in this 
case as well.

Den Lippert



I didn't mention this part in my last diatribe... though I HAVE said 
it on this list before, I think:

ACRYLIC PAINTS are awesome for brush painting... regardless of what 
you think of them as an airbrush paint!  I have a full assortment of 
PollyScale (and some Modelflex) that are "designated brush 
bottles"... meaning that they are not thinned (much), and minor 
contamination from brush painting is not considered to be a problem.  
I have used them almost exclusively for brush work for a few years 

Den Lippert



So, is everyone who uses Scalecaot saying that they wouln't use SC2 
on brass?  What's the difference in this case?  I'm not an expert at 
the brass thing, but I have a project to do and could appreciate the 

Sorry to be sturring the pot any longer, but I thought I'd ask what 
it is I need to know.

Donovan in Dallas

I have used Scalecoat II on a few chunks of metal here and there, mainly
diesel underframes and fuel tanks.  It works just fine.  I think Scalecoat
I might have better adhesion and hardness on metal, but that's not a "must
have", other than for guys who do things like "factory paint" brass
locos... yep, I was rather surprised to find out a few years ago that
Overland's "factory painted" locos are painted right here in the USA, by
various subcontractors.  Some of which do better than others.  I'd like to
have a talk with the guy, for instance, who did my NS C39-8.  Most locos
have black window gaskets, but since the loco itself was black, the guy
decided to do the gaskets in gray to make them "stand out".  W R O N G.
But some of the guys who do "pro" custom paint jobs on brass are into
Scalecoat I and baking the paint on, etc.  Dunno how much different
Scalecoat II would be but it would be more than adequate I'm sure, just
perhaps lack that last bit of the "pure factory" look.

Andy Harman

I had standardized on Scalecoat red and yellow colors before
Scalecoat II came out, but both colors benefitted from a white
base coat. So I sprayed Scalecoat II white, then the Scalecoat I
red and yellow, which "popped" better as a result. (Using gray
primer under the yellow would have shifted it toward green.)
I never ruined a plastic shell this way. If I were spraying a model
a dark color, then I'd skip the base coat, of course, but even
medium blue looked better over a white base coat.

Scalecoat I or II creates an ideal surface for decaling, and an
overspray of their oddly named "Matte Glaze" produces an
extremely flat finish. It is so flat that is can lighten the base color.
I thought I was going to need to paint steam locos gray, for
example, but using Scalecoat I Keystone Black (a charcoal black)
and then Matte Glaze changed the black to the desired weathered

Again, per Bob Weaver's (owner) suggestion, always put thinner
in your airbrush cup, get the brush working perfectly, and then
tint the thinner with the color. When the surface of the model seems
to magically change color before your eyes -- not dry looking
(like Floquil) or runny, you have the right mix. It's easy to do.

Tony Koester

I found this out the hard way.  Scalecoat's flat is indeed dead flat, but
has so much pigment in it that it really kills the colors.  Often
detrimentally.  I have for instance a pink DT&I unit as the result of my
one attempt to use this on a locomotive.  I prefer to have my final finish
not alter the base colors at all, or as little as possible.

Conservative "by the book" painting has rarely worked for me.  Ok, make
that "never".  I can't imagine blowing heavily thinned Scalecoat I over
plastic.  I still have what's left of an Atlas RS3 shell from trying that
trick many years ago.  But whatever.

Andy Harman

I'm with you on this one, 8=)  Seems what works for others just doesn't seem
to cut it with me.  That's why I always paraphrase my painting methods and
mixes as "this works for me, your results may vary.."  This one of taking
thinner and adding color until "magic happens" seems a bit bizarre to me,
but then I use water colors, as Bob Harpe would say!!!

mike garber

Andy's right, but read my advice again:
Use Scalecoat II (white for light colors, especially yellow) as the base
coat for plastic, then spray the Scalecoat I color (if it's not available
in SC II).
The undercoat of Scalecoat II will be so thin as to be almost undetectable.
Moreover, either SC I or II should go on looking wet (read "glossy") but
not actually being wet enough to run. It is looks dry as it goes on, you
too much pressure or too much paint for the thinner.

Tony Koester



Tony brings up an interesting point that I've noticed.  His reference of the
use of the overspray of "Matte Glaze" lightens the base color, in his case
from black to a grey.  I've noticed also in my work, while not using
Scalecoat paints, that it seems overspraying with Testors Dullcoat makes my
blacks often lighten or even "blue" a bit.  Is this due to the flat finish
reflecting light differently or something in the Dullcoat "tinting" the base

Appreciate any thoughts on this subject. 

mike garber

  Under what light is this most noticeable?

Mike  Brock

Believe it or not it seems to be incandescent lighting more than
flouresent as you might expect.  It's really not blue, but a blue-black-navy
thing.  My buds just like to call it blue!!

mike garber

Mike, the reason I ask is that different paints and their different colors
give different impressions under different light. There simply isn't a
single color impression given off by a given paint. Years ago some of us
were painting steam engines outside. We were using Scalecoat I...I think. I
think we were using Engine Black and adding some kind of grey to it. We were
really pleased with the result until we took the engine inside and viewed it
under warm white fluorescent [ wow, that's the second time I've spelled that
sucker right ] bulbs. The engine was now a blue black. Well, we added some
brown. the layout room. Warm whites, BTW, were in order to
present a warm image...Wyoming you know.

One really troubling color is UP Armor Yellow. Polyscale's just doesn't seem
right under any light. I think they changed the formula because I have
different colored paints. Of course no one else can seem to decide what
color it should be. Polyscale's under warm white bulbs is much too
yellow...more like C&NW yellow. P2K has put three or so Armor Yellows on
their stuff. Rivarossi put something else on theirs and Kato used more of a
yellow. OTOH, UP couldn't apparently decide either because I've stood next
to two cars in excursion duty...quite clean...and noticed distinct
differences in the colors. Actually, this is pleasing. Anything goes.

Mike Brock



This was what forced me to use the Badger Modelflex to do my E-L SDP45.  I
had stashed away, for many years, the original Floquil non-compatible EL
colors, which had always been the most accurate IMO.  I thought the paint
was just a wee bit too old (although unopened) to risk shooting on 200
hours of work.  And I didn't want to have to shoot additional gloss over it
all to apply the decals.  But my alternatives were: Scalecoat I (never
liked the shades, and not plastic compatible), PollyScale (a good match for
Kato's somewhat dinghy looking EL colors, but IMO not right), Accuflex (I'd
sooner slash my wrists), and Badger Modelflex.  The MF colors looked very
good, and I tested all three on a spare Athearn shell - very nice smooth
finish - the gray covered the bare black plastic easily, and my EL shell
was a combination of Cannon gray and Gunze Mr. Surfacer so I figured no

Yes problem.  I had the audacity to wait a whole week between sessions, and
even more audacity to use the same bottles of paint - since after all, they
had been just fine a week before.  The gray went on like sandpaper, but I
was able to fiddle with the mix, thin it a bit more, and salvage the paint
job.  These flex paints are HELL to strip, it would have meant another
15-20 hours work to patch the model after stripping.  The yellow and maroon
went on with no problems.  But I learned a lesson: with Modelflex, use it
once and throw it away.  Best way to get your money's worth from a bottle
is to assembly-line several projects at once.  

I brought this up with John Lee one time.  He said I didn't know how to
paint.  That was pretty much the end of our conversation.

I brought it up to the Badger rep. in St. Paul, when they were announcing a
new formula supposedly.  I said will it help the shelf-life problem, and he
said "what shelf life problem?".  Sigh.  This is the kind of stuff that
will keep me in critic mode for years.  They'll never fix a problem that
doesn't exist in their eyes.  Meanwhile, I'll restrict usage of their paint
to cases of dire need when no superior substitute matching shade is
available.  In other words, my next Erie Lackawanna loco (with brand new
bottles of the stuff), and not much in between.  And I'll never brush the
stuff again (took me several tries to learn) except when I want my
handrails to look like those long rippled balloons you see at carnivals.  I
can see that being in-demand a lot :-)

The bottom line is, whatever works.  I've heard people claim AccuFlex was
the greatest thing since the invention of the airbrush.  I've also seen
some of the most awful paint jobs imaginable being shown as *examples* by
the manufacturer of the stuff, models I'd throw in the garbage if the paint
came out looking that bad.  So whatever works... and for me, it ain't been
Testors throwaway airbrushes, or anybody's "-flex" paint.


This would mirror my experience as well.  Every time I get a "good" 
paint job out of a bottle of 'flex or Pollyscale, it's from a BRAND 
NEW bottle.  

That's not how I operate.

If I have something that I need to paint NYC Jade, I pull out an old 
SQUARE bottle of Floquil (aka, 25+ years old) and paint it. (not 
because it's any better than newer jades... I just STILL HAVE the old 
bottle of Floquil!)

I wonder how well this will pan out in the future?  I'll have to keep 
better track.

Den Lippert

This is a very true statement. I found this out on one of my SOUTHERN models 
when I attempted to experiment with different shades of paint bleaching. I 
sprayed the entire model with Scalecoat's Flat Glaze and it turned the model 
from black to a dark grey. 
I do continue to use this Flat Glaze, but only on horizontal surfaces where 
the sun and heat seem to lighten blacks to different shades of grey.

Bob Harpe

Any really flat finish has the effect of lightening the base color
slightly. The finish is flat because it's not really smooth at the
microscopic level, and so it reflects light in more different directions
than a smoother glossy finish. The light bouncing in different directions
is what causes both the flatness and the seemingly lighter color. Now that
I use Polly Scale Flat Finish instead of Dullcote, I've noticed that it has
the same effect.

As Mike Brock suggests, a shift in color tone may be at least partially an
effect of the light the finish reflects. A blue shift isn't necessarily a
bad thing, because railroad cars and engines on a sunny day reflect a lot
of blue skylight.

A gloss finish has the opposite effect of darkening the base color,
somewhat like wetting a surface.

Andy Spereando

I also use Polly Scale but I have found that mixing some Polly Scale Matte 
finish with the flat works well.  For a new engine or car I used about 50/50 
flat and matte, not so new I use 75% flat/25% matte, and for real old cars I 
use about 90% flat/10% matte.  I have found that by mixing these final coats 
I end up with much better models.  Not all models should have a flat 
finish.....even a well worn Penn Central unit usually had some shine to it!

Tom Hagg

One slight correction on Overland paint jobs.  SOME OMI locos are
painted at the factory, and others are painted here in the US by various
sub-contractors as you pointed out.  On my price lists, the factory
painted ones are listed that way, and the others are called "custom
painted OMI", differentiating between the two.

Mike Rose

I've used SC2 on brass (in a pinch, when no SC1 was handy), and 
really didn't see any difference...  I know that SC1 is very touch 
and chip-resistant... which I cannot say about SC2.

Most of my brass painting has an undercoat/primer of some sort, so 
the adhesion of SC1 to the metal is somewhat irrelevant.  If the 
factory lacquer is fairly thin, and in good condition, I will paint 
right over it.  If the lacquer is gone or bad, it gets stripped (and 
today I would blast it as well), then it gets painted with a GOOD 
metal primer.  

The stuff I use is PPG DP-401, which is a 2-part epoxy primer.  I 
know not what it costs, because a friend gave me a pint of each part 
some 12-15 years ago (!).  You mix the two parts 50-50, let them set 
for "at least 45 minutes", then thin to the appropriate consistancy 
with lacquer thinner.  The mixture will only survive for about a week 
in the bottle before it dries up.  The primer is a funny "green-gray" 
color... but I've NEVER had anything chip if the DP-401 was 
underneath.  I've used it on many brass pieces, as well as old Cary 
lead-alloy shells, and Athearn/RPP frames... all with great results.  
When thinned, it gives a nice thin coat.

Den Lippert

I have to second  the thoughts on a short shelf life for acrylic paints in
general.   For quite some time I was baffled by having a good paint job
followed by a bad one, while I was doing everything the same way, including
using the same paint bottle.  I then realized that by using an unopened
bottle, the problems went away.

I tried Scalecoat several times, but could never get the "look" that I
wanted with it.  Once I got past the unopened bottle problem, I've been able
to get consistent results with Pollyscale and have pretty much stuck with it
for both brass and plastic.

And why would a paint manufacturer admit to a shelf life problem with his
paint, when he can sell more paint by not fixing the "alleged problem"?

Ray Opthof

Ah yes, the issue of shelf life.

Most, if not all of my acrylic paint turned to silly putty.
It was difficult to see all of that material ($$$$$) go into the waste can.

Now I buy what I need to use, use it and then assume that the leftover is
"going" to be dumped.

Charles J. Tobin

You should try this on an industrial scale! Like most manufacturers, at
Branchline we use acrylic paints too. Most of the colors have a decent shelf
life, and our crew keeps a pretty good eye on dates, but every now and then
we get caught out. Not too liong ago we had four 5 gallon cans of silver
turn into a wonderfull gel that we could not find any good use for - and not
for lack of trying! Talk about $$$$ in the waste can.....

Bill Schneider

Because that's the "old" business mentality.  Today, all 
manufacturers try to be all touchy-feely with customer relations.

(And if you believe THAT, I'll tell ya another....)

Den Lippert

IMO any paint maunfacturer to go through multiple "new formula" revisions
has a problem to begin with.  Not admitting the obvious just makes their
reps look either dishonest or at least ignorant.

Andy harman

Only when they meet up with patronizing touchy-feely customers.  Take 1.5
steps south of the "you guys are great I love your products" line and watch
the warm fuzzies go up in smoke.

Andy Harman

I am surprised by the discussion of short lives of water based paints.  I 
really don't have this problem at all. Just the other day I used an old 
bottle of Accu-Flex (not ModelFlex) without any problems.  I don't do 
anything special except thin the paint about 10-15% with distilled water.

Tom Hagg

I have a bottle of Pollyscale that is four years old and been open numerous 
times.  It is still fine.  I had much more trouble with Floquil than I ever 
have with Pollyscale.

Rich Gortowski



All this loss of good paint can be avoided. The secret is vacuum. After I 
open a fresh bottle of paint and use what I need I do the following. 
First clean the edge of the bottle and wipe out the cap.
Take a small piece of cellophane and place it over the mouth of the jar.
Push the plastic down into the jar with your finger to remove as much air as 
Cap the jar with the lid making sure to keep some of the plastic on the 
outside of the jar.
Now place the bottle in a small resealable sandwich bag.
Close the bag almost all the way leaving enough of an opening to stick a 
straw in the bag and suck all the air out.
As you remove the straw seal the bag.
Roll the bag around the bottle and rubber band it.
Mark the bag with a marker so you know what paint is in it.
DO NOT USE A FOOD VACCUUM UNIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The bottles will implode if banged together. 8>(
I opened bottles I closed almost 20 years ago and they were still fresh so I 
know it works!!!

Ray Russell

In the discussions about paint problems one simple tip was omitted. 
This was given to me by a hobby shop owner, store your paint bottles 
upside down. The paint forms a seal around the neck of the bottle 
prolonging shelf life.
One caveat, store the bottles on some sort of disposable liner in case 
of leakage. I use the top of a shoe box.
One hint, if the bottle is hard to open, a five to ten second blast 
from a hair dryer will loosen the top.or accomplish the same thing by 
running the bottle neck under very hot water.

Gerry Siegel 



FC List Jan 2002

To the best of my knowledge the only manufacturer using a standard model RR
paint is Accurail (Floquil/Polly S). Like Red Caboose, Intermountain,
Athearn, Model Die Casting, etc we use a commercial (industrial) water based
paint system that we either have pre-mixed to our specifications or mix
ourselves using a base/tint process similar to what you might find at any
commercial home center. This allows us to match our own colors while
spraying an employee and enviromentally friendly substance. The down side is
that this is not a commercial model railroad paint ala Floquil. We have
talked to a couple paint manufacturers about matching colors to ours, but
you should see the eyes glaze over when we say we use six different boxcar
reds on our standard line..... (please, no color perception discussion
please!). On the Berwicks cars each car's color was mixed to match either
either chips or photos and with the exception of the various NRUC cars no
two are the same.

As for the specific CNW car, this color was matched to a prototype car that
came through Connecticut Southern's East Hartford yard some months ago. The
good news is that, at least for the grab irons, Floquil boxcar red or
similar will be in the ballpark and with a little weathering should blend
right on.

Bill Schneider
Branchline Trains


S.A. McCall